Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Boxer App Has Some More Ideas About Fixing Mobile Email

Boxer, a new iPhone app for managing email, launches today, with some tweaks that may appeal to some — and to others may seem like just more email.

Boxer-LikeBoxer‘s motto is “email isn’t broken, it’s just unfair.” That is: Everyone who knows your email address gets the right to make your pile bigger. So you should have better tools to quickly make your pile smaller.

What Boxer does, much like the Dropbox-acquired Mailbox, is add some simple swiping gestures to help people triage their email.

The special Boxer actions are “Like,” a way to acknowledge an email without actually replying; “Quick,” which helps send prewritten responses; “To-do,” which moves a message into a to-do list; and “Request,” which helps establish and track other people’s to-dos.

There’s also Dropbox integration and Rapportive-like contact summaries with profile photos.

What Boxer doesn’t do is minimize the actual number of emails you send and receive. In fact, it adds to it. When you “Like” a message, the original sender receives an email saying “So-and-so liked your message with Boxer.” Yes, yet another email. And the Request tracking stuff seems to work best if the other person uses Boxer too and can see what priority you designate.

Why? “Everyone tries to get out of the inbox, but they’re inevitably drawn back,” explained Boxer co-founder Andrew Eye, who formerly worked on a similar product called Taskbox.

In March, Taskbox bought Boxer — a stealth startup founded by Jason Shellen, formerly of Brizzly (which was bought by AOL) and Google Reader. The combined company has raised a “small seed round,” mostly from Austin-based investors.

So why would people use Boxer versus any other new email client from a major provider or a third party? One advantage of Boxer is that it works with Gmail, Exchange, Yahoo, AOL Mail, iCloud and others at launch. And the other is that it’s not an IMAP client that intercepts people’s email, so it should theoretically be faster and more secure. “We’re a true client — we’re not doing anything funny in the cloud,” Shellen said. Using Gmail as an example, “We want the connection to be between you and Google, not you and then us and then Google.”

But what are the long-term prospects for an independent email app company? Well, Boxer’s ambitions are bigger than that, Shellen said. He wants the startup to offer broader “social task management” tools that serve as a “dashboard for everyday worklife.” Email is just the first application.

Boxer expects to charge users $4.99 per app download, but it’s giving the first 100,000 downloads away for free, starting today.


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— Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”